The Polite Times™
|A regular newsletter published by The PoliteChild, Inc.|
|Vol III, No 7||
President’s Corner – Truancy and What to do About it
Dear PoliteChild family, supporters, and friends:
Isn’t it funny how fate can step in sometimes just when you need it to?
As I was getting ready to start this newsletter, it occurred to me that I was at a loss for what to write about in this month’s “Corner.” Well, today that problem was solved. There was a big story in yesterday’s paper – I was traveling so didn’t see it until this morning – about the “cost” of truancy.
Ah ha! Here’s my story!
Like last month, you may wonder what truancy has to do with social skills. But there is a genuine link. First, ask yourself why these kids are not in school. It may be due to a number of reasons: they don’t feel safe or included in their school environment, they don’t see the value in school, they’re getting back at their parents, they don’t take school seriously. Any number of things. And, each of those reasons I just listed can be traced back to problems in social skills and character development.
First: feeling safe or “wanted” in school. As a nation, we spend billions of dollars each year on anti-bullying programs, conflict resolution plans, training for teachers on these topics … all in the name of developing and maintaining a “safe school” environment for our kids. While bullying has always existed to some extent, it’s only been in the recent few decades that it has become so rampant. While we need to consider bullying remediation, we also need to begin to focus more on actually preventing the problems in the first place. Developing respect, compassion, courtesy, consideration – that’s what we need to emphasize if we want bullying to reverse its epidemic condition.
Next, consider that the truant child doesn’t take school seriously or see the value in his education. Well, again, that’s a problem with lack of responsibility and accountability. Kids need to understand and appreciate that their “job” is to be a student. It sounds simple to say it, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult lesson to learn. Lessons in loyalty, in responsibility and consequences, self-discipline, self-control – those virtues can go a long way toward building the type of individual that takes pride in their “job” and accepts the consequences of their actions, positive or negative.
Family situation: well, there are any number of social skills that may be awry in a family that “doesn’t work.” Granted, there can also be other causes, and we won’t get into that now, but very often lack of respect, of compassion and courtesy, of kindness can be at the heart of a family where kids (and grown-ups too!) don’t feel supported, appreciated, and valued. That can contribute a great deal toward the problem of a child who skips school “to get even” or because he feels his family doesn’t care where he is or what he does.
In the Desert Sun article, the “costs” of truancy were explored, but these were seen in light of fines being assessed to students, and passed down to parents, for their repeated truancy. Certainly hitting someone in the wallet is one way to get their attention, but ultimately is that going to stop the problem? What if the family can’t afford to pay for it?
The bigger “cost” I see however, is in the impact this has on the school system and on us as a society now and into the future. Schools get money from their districts based on how many students they have in class every day. For each day a student is truant, it costs the school money – money that is desperately needed for education! And, having kids running around, getting into trouble, not getting a vital education has both immediate and long-term consequences for our communities. We already know what that looks like because we live it.
Our kids need to be at their “jobs” every day, just as we do. Our schools deserve to have their students there, ready to learn, in order to do their jobs. Now, what do we have to do to make this “job” work?
And, while well-meaning, no amount of “fining” is going to fix this problem. It’s up to us, parents, educators, and anyone who has the best interests of a child at heart.
Thank you for your support and your comments! You can reach me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Corinne Gregory, President & Founder
PoliteChild has kicked off the new school year in a big way. We’re working on teacher trainings, program implementation (1500 kids in the Coachella Valley alone!), and parent’s information nights.
The parent info nights can be done as a standalone evening or as part of a school’s regular Back to School night. In some schools, they have scheduled the first hour of “Back to School Night” as the time where the parents meet in an auditorium to hear the PoliteChild presentation and to ask questions about the program.
Another opportunity is to use the “Parent Night” as a fund-raiser. The PoliteChild can provide information on social skills development topics that are relevant to all parents, not just those interested in having their children enrolled in PoliteChild courses. Schools can open attendance up to the community, and even by charging just a nominal fee, can expect to bring in a significant amount of revenue from the event.
For schools who are looking for ways to fund PoliteChild
courses, this may be a creative way to get the fund-raising ball rolling.
Jackie Smith became our first licensee this year. She attended our national training program here in Palm Desert. Her company, The Well-Mannered Child, is off to a good start with Jackie speaking at local Mothers of Pre-Schoolers (MOPS) groups and teaching PoliteChild classes to children in her community..
Jackie lives west of Philadelphia in the heart of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Jackie plays an active role in her community by providing leadership for both 4-H and Girl Scouts. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to mentor to and to be a role model for young boys and girls in my community”.
In addition to running her company, Jackie home schools her two children, ages 7 and 9, and teaches classes at her home school co-op. Alongside her husband of 11 years, she manages the home and family activities.
Meeting and greeting can be difficult for many kids. Even many adults have trouble with the first hand-shake when they meet someone for the first time. Who hasn’t been on the receiving end of the “bone crusher” or, worse yet, the “dead fish” hand-shake?
Here’s a quick and easy tip for making sure you or your child deliver the “perfect” handshake – not to hard, not too soft. It’s simple:
Make sure the “web” part of your hand – the skin between the base of your thumb and the base of your index finger – meets with solid contact with the “web” part of your partner’s hand. Now, if you simply allow your hand to curl naturally around the bottom of your partner’s hand, you’ll be pretty close to delivering the right amount of pressure, with the right amount of “feel.”
That “web to web” contact is the key…and it’s easy to remember. If you make sure that your “webs” meet, the rest is pretty much automatic.
As far as how many times to “pump” your hand, well, 2-3 times should do it. Not once, but not so many times that you have to remember to count. Two to three times doesn’t require counting. And, remember that the “pump” originates at the elbow; you don’t need to get your whole shoulder involved in the action! This isn’t a workout, it’s a handshake.
Now, grab your son or daughter and have them practice it a few times to get the hang of it. The more they practice, the more comfortable they’ll become and the more natural it will be when they have to do it for real. There’s nothing more impressive than a child who can meet someone new with confidence and style!
The holidays are coming and it’s time to brush up on
those skills we’ll be needing more of when the season turns festive!
Meeting and greeting is one we’re sure you’ll be using.
Brainstorm NW ran its article in the September issue and it caused a number of cascading media appearances including an interview on KLX-News Radio in Portland. Interest in Portland and surrounding areas has risen greatly, as you might imagine.
September 16th, PoliteChild President and Founder Corinne Gregory was interviewed by Mark Nichols, host of the Desert local TV program, “The Talking Stick.” The show aired on September 20-22, on both PAX and Time Warner Cable. We’ll have some digital excerpts of the interview available on the website soon. Stay tuned!
Kiwanis Magazine interviewed us on the topic of the importance of families dining together. That article is scheduled to appear in January, 2005. We are also expecting to appear in Seattle Magazine as a result of another interview done with them mid-month.
We also were contacted by a television production company in England! It seems the London Times did a story about the rise in popularity of programs such as ours in the US, and we were mentioned in the article. Now there’s a possibility of The PoliteChild being included in a documentary based on the article. Wouldn’t that be jolly good fun! And, terrific press!
Nick Jr. Magazine is expected to carry the article with our interview in October. Personally speaking, Ms. Gregory has been told by her eldest daughter that PoliteChild has now “made it” because we are appearing in Nick Jr. Mag!
Then, the fun begins:
Parenting Magazine - November on the topic of
teaching kids gratitude
…and then there’s Entrepreneur….someday!
At PoliteChild, we always strive to come up with information for our newsletters that is interesting and relevant to you our readers. We’d love to get feedback on how we’re doing – are we meeting our readers’ needs?
Let us know if you’d like to see a specific topic addressed or if you have a question you’d like answered. We can keep it anonymous, of course – we wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone because that wouldn’t be polite.
But, if you have a topic on raising kids with better social skills, education reform, basic (or not-so-basic) manners or etiquette question, please drop us a line and we’ll look to feature it in an upcoming issue!
Our newest e-booklet, Party Manners Worth Celebrating is now available for download from the PoliteChild website. One of the most frequent topics parents (and the media!) question us about is how to improve your child’s conduct at one of their earliest social “appearances” – the birthday party.
To address the many questions we get about this topic The PoliteChild has created a handbook which is available to all our newsletter subscribers and the general public.
In the booklet, you’ll find answers to your birthday
party questions and cover topics such as:
You can get your very own copy of the Party Manners booklet right now for only $4.95.
To get your copy, go to http://www.politechild.com/store/pmwc.htm and follow the download instructions. We know you’ll find it to be a valuable resource for yourself, and even to share with your neighborhood, homeschool network, PTO, or other family/parenting group. We hope you enjoy your copy! And, we’d love to get any feedback you may have!